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Like many nursing “sacred cows,” the practice of keeping a vein open with a small infusion of intravenous solution does not have clear origins or robust evidence. A survey of Canadian nurses was conducted to determine current practices. More than 50% of respondents reported regularly using a keep-vein-open (KVO) rate between doses of intermittent medication.

Frequently, the rate was not specified by the prescriber; in this case, nurses preferred 21 to 30 mL/h. Given the absence of evidence and the frequent use, it is important to ensure that KVO is used properly in the context of a medical prescription or an organizational protocol.


Paquet, F. and Marchionni, C. (2016) What Is Your KVO? Historical Perspectives, Review of Evidence, and a Survey About an Often Overlooked Nursing Practice. Journal of Infusion Nursing. 39(1), p32-37.

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